Sound Advice for Parenting
Article credited to Dr. Luis Rojas Marcos, psychiatrist.
Today's children are over-stimulated and given many material items, but they are deprived of the foundations of a healthy childhood, such as:
• Emotionally available parents • Clearly defined limits • Responsibilities • Balanced nutrition and adequate sleep • Movement in general but especially outdoors • Creative game, social interaction, informal gaming opportunities and spaces for boredom
Instead, these last few years have been filled with:
• Digitally distracted parents • Indulgent and permissive parents who let children ′′rule the world ′′ and be the ones who set the rules • A sense of entitlement, to deserve everything without winning it or being responsible for getting it • Inappropriate sleep and unbalanced nutrition • A sedentary lifestyle • Endless stimulation, tech nannies, instant gratification and no boring moments
What to do?
If we want our children to be happy and healthy individuals, we need to wake up and get back to basics. It's still possible! Many families are seeing immediate improvements after weeks of following these recommendations:
• Set boundaries and remember you are the captain of the boat. Your children will feel safer knowing you are in control of the rudder. • Give children a balanced lifestyle filled with what children need, not just what they want. Don't be afraid to say ′′no′′ to your kids if what they want isn't what they need. • Provide nutritious food and limit junk food. • Spend at least an hour a day outdoors doing activities like: Cycling, hiking, fishing, bird / bug watching. • Enjoy a daily family dinner without smartphones or technology that distracts them. • Play family board games or if kids are too small for board games, get carried away by your interests and let them participate in the game. • Involve your children in a task depending on their age (folding clothes, order toys, hanging clothes, unpacking supplies, setting table, feeding dogs etc. ). • Implement a consistent sleep routine to make sure your child sleeps long enough. Hours will be even more important for school age children. • Teach responsibility and independence. Don't protect them too much from frustration or error. Being wrong will help them develop resilience and learn how to overcome life's challenges. • Don't load your kids' backpacks, don't carry their backpacks, don't take the item they forgot, don't peel their bananas or oranges if they can do it for themselves (4-5 years). Instead of giving them the fish, show them to fish. • Teach them how to wait and delay gratification. • Provide opportunities for ′′boredom", because boredom is the moment creativity wakes up. Don't feel responsible for always keeping kids entertained. • Don't use technology as a cure for boredom, nor offer it at the first second of inactivity. • Avoid using technology during meals, in cars, restaurants, shopping centers. Use these moments as opportunities to socialize by thus training the brain to function when they are in mode ′′ boredom".′ • Help them create a 'Bottle of Boredom' with activity ideas for when they're bored. • Be emotionally available to connect with children and teach them self-regulation and social skills. • Turn off phones at night when kids need to go to bed to avoid digital distraction. • Become an emotional regulator or coach of your children. Teach them to recognize and deal with their own frustrations and anger. • Show them how to greet, take turns, share without expecting anything, say 'thank you' and 'please', recognize a mistake and apologize (don't force them); be a model of all these values. • Connect emotionally - smile, kiss, hug, tickle, read, dance, jump, play with them.